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New York Proposes Increased Flexibility to Teacher Certification Process

New York's education department has released proposed regulations that would give teachers more flexibility in earning a permanent classroom certificate or a supplementary certificate. 

The move comes almost a year after state experts warned of a looming teacher shortage—which some attributed partially to New York's complex certification process, Politico reported. According to U.S. Department of Education data, New York is facing statewide shortages of teachers primarily in bilingual education, special education, and career and technical classes. There are even more shortages concentrated in New York City. 

Teachers in New York need three full years of experience to earn a professional certificate. If their initial, entry-level certificate expires beforehand, teachers can apply for it to be reissued for five years—only after completing 75 hours of professional development in a year. 

The proposed regulations by the state education department would give more flexibility to teachers by allowing them to complete the year of professional development before or after applying for a reissuance. 

Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said in a statement that the proposed changes would ensure that skilled teachers can remain in the classroom while undergoing the certification process. 

Currently, certified teachers who want to teach a different subject area must obtain a supplementary certificate that allows them to teach that subject area for three years while taking classes to earn full certification. Another proposed change would give teachers two additional years to complete the requirements for full certification in the new subject area.

Districts hit with teacher shortages often reassign teachers to a subject area with many vacancies. The supplementary certificate gives schools and educators flexibility to do that.  

"Educators have told us these proposed regulation changes will allow qualified teachers to get into or stay in the classroom as they complete their certificate requirements," MaryEllen Elia, the state education department commissioner, said in a statement. "At a time when we are facing real teaching shortages, it's important that we help skilled, qualified teachers do just that—teach—as they work to fulfill all requirements."

A 45-day period for public comments on the proposed regulations will begin on Jan. 25. Then the Board of Regents will vote on the regulations in April, and if adopted, the rules would become effective on April 26.

New York has previously walked back efforts to heighten requirements for entrance into the teaching profession. Last April, the state's board of regents pushed back a requirement that teacher candidates pass the edTPA, a performance-based test that requires a video submission, to June 2017. 

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